FARMINGTON — Selectmen Tuesday, June 23, voted to not hold an annual Town Meeting this year and commit taxes based on last year’s budget.

The Town Meeting was to have been held March 30. It was initially postponed, to an unknown later date, due to the Governor’s Stay at Home Executive Order to limit the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

In January the selectmen approved a $6.5 million 2020 budget, up 6.24% over current spending. Most of the increase came from a 50.54% increase for the Farmington Fire Rescue Department to provide 24-hour, seven-day-a-week  coverage.

Last month, that Department cut $239,163 from its budget while keeping two full-time firefighter positions, beginning Aug. 1.

Additonal changes made at the June 9 board meeting brought the 2020 budget to $770 less than the current spending plan. Town Manager Richard Davis suggested not holding an annual Town Meeting this year but wanted to bring it to the Budget Committee before making a decision.

Davis said he met with the Budget Committee June 17. Revisions to the 2020 budget were reviewed and the committee agreed with the recommendation to not hold a Town Meeting.

“You have the ability to commit taxes based on last year’s budget,” Davis told the board. “Based on legal opinion from Maine Municipal Association, if there is no other pressing items, you can forego the Town Meeting altogether.

“We’ve already set the tax due date and the tax interest rates.”

The Budget Committee discussed the possibility of holding a drive-in Town Meeting and guidelines for holding an indoor one, Davis said.

“You can hold an indoor Town Meeting using several rooms in one facility,” he said. “There are about eight restrictions and eight public health considerations that must be met.

“They’d be extremely difficult to meet. Based on that, the Budget Committee voted unanimously not to hold Town Meeting this year.”

When Selectman Michael Fogg asked if the fire department’s revised budget included the two new firefighters, Davis told him it did.

“One advantage to not holding a Town Meeting this year is we could commit taxes earlier and give people longer to pay,” Davis said.

In other business, Selectmen approved a $200,000 Community Development Block Grant from the Economic Development program for Franklin Printing, 569 Wilton Road. The selectmen in March approved an amount of $250,000, but the owners have requested it be reduced by $50,000.

A recent $1.5 million owner-invested expansion will allow the company to grow and offer its products and services to new markets, Davis said.

The grant funds will be used to update software, replace inefficient equipment and purchase new equipment. Improved efficiencies will result in the three main areas of manufacturing: prepress, pressroom and bindery, Davis said.

“They’re a great company, doing a really good job and employing 50 people,” Selectman Scott Landry said. “It sounds like a good investment to me.”

“I’m glad to see the reinvestment into the community,” Selectman Matthew Smith said.

The board also approved Michael Macneil’s application for a marijuana outdoor grow facility.

The Planning Board approved the application, Davis said.

“Is there going to be a retail operation somewhere,” Landry asked.

“No. According to state law, as a grower of adult use marijuana I have to sell to adult use recreational shops,” Macneil said.

 


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